NL: I love that idea of kind of capturing, collaging.
Of kind of making something that is hyperreal through sound, which is really a fun thing to do … you do that a lot with your music don’t you?
CS: Well, yes, I do it a lot of times with found or appropriated music, but have a lot of pieces that integrate field recordings in. As i mentioned, I was fascinated with the sounds of Tokyo from the first time i came, and then when I came back in the late 1980s with a specific purpose, and even some financial support from the Asian Cultural council to uh, not document, but to capture the sounds of metropolitan Tokyo at that time, and to create a new piece of music – which came out as a CD called Kamiya Bar.
Also what’s interesting is that – I think this is probably true of many cities but its certainly the case with Tokyo, is that the soundscape is changing all the time. Tokyo is always renewing itself; things are constantly under construction. Old buildings, sometimes sadly, are being collapsed and destroyed and rplaced with new buildings, which may be offputting when they are erected but may become loved and appreciated and then mourned when they disappear, in 40 or 50 years in the future … and the same thing with sounds.
There is a professor here in Tokyo by the name of Keiko Toigway who has done a lot of work documenting the sounds of japan. Natural sounds, and also the urban sounds of Tokyo, and a lot of the sounds that I hear dor recorded back in 1988 theyve gone now. They’ve either disappeared or they’ve been replaced. the sounds of human beings, punching tickets at train stations has been of course replaced by automatic machines you know, automatic wickets and um, on one level I regret that the beautiful sounds of these people punching the tickets, when they’re massed up like that was incredible sound … it’s gone, but the new sounds are in their way, wonderful too, and when they disappear from some reason, in the future we’ll miss them as well.
JG: It is a special place isnt it?
CS: Yes I think it is! Though, I suppose I’m a Nakano partisan because I live there! But I think if you want to all the neighbouring stations - Koenji for example – or just went a little farther down, that would have its own profile and that would be wonderful too. It’s just, sort of, where you are, and where you become accustomed to –
and where you end up making your recordings.
Maybe we should talk a little bit about the system that we’re doing here, because I think it’s an interesting and unusual approach that you guys have elected to do.
JG: Well there’s three people here so there’s Carl in the middle who is the master of the ceremony today, of the performance, and then Nick and me are going to be feeding in our own sounds to Carl … as we mentioned we went on a sound journey; a sound hunting journey with Carl several weeks ago and got a collection, or you might even say a hoard of sounds. We’ll be feeding those to Carl, and also some of our edits of those, and in the meantime as well of course Carl has his own material, that he’s been working on from his own recordings too.
It's all based around a long form recording that we made right in the heart of Nakano. There’s a railway bridge, so next to the station, and it felt like a really nice backbone.